tv Charlie Rose PBS June 11, 2010 1:00am-2:00am EDT
>> charlrlie: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with politics. the primary elections were on tuesday night. we get an assessment, this evening, from chris matthews of "hard ball." >> if blanche lincoln survives, if charlie crist wins down there, these people will break this notion that you can't be somewhere in the middle and you can't -- i wish the voters would think do you really want politicians to not go to washington and not really negotiate? would you like them to say "we'll wait for our party to get 60% and we'll run the place and have a one-party rule?" do you want that? isn't it better to have one party checking on the other and modifying each other and coming down with something like a consensus? isn't that better to have a health care bill for example that did have 75 votes? would it be better? >> charlie: we conclude this evening with philanthropy and the interesting life of doris buffett. >> everything i do i consider an investment. that's how it was made.
a good investment is up to me as the steward of the money to be just as careful with it, so we get results from what we do. lives -- you wouldn't believe. they get the point about paying it forward because last month i was in maine and the phone rang and said "my name is susan and you saved our family," she said "i don't have any money but i collected over 4,000 pairs of shoes and they're all going to haiti." that's my payoff. >> charlie: matthews, and buffett. coming up. funding fo captioning sponsored by rose communications
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. e begin with politics. 12 states voted in primaries across the country on tuesday night, an antiincumbent move, the rising tea party, gender, money, and former president clinton all played a part. the biggest sprielz came in arkansas where senator blanche lincoln -- surprise came from arkansas where senator blanche lincoln survived a challenge from her party's left. meg whitman chosen for the gubernatorial candidate. in south carolina, g.o.p. state representative nikki hailey survived personal attacks to win her party's gubernatorial nomination. joining me now in washington is chris matthews. he is the host of msnbc's "hardball" and he has a now documentary coming up which we'll talk about a bit later in
which he takes a look at the right in american politics. but we begin with election night and saying welcome. >> thanks, charlie. >> charlie: i have said this before about you. you are the poet of politics. you just what -- love it? >> yes. there is always a story and there is poetry and sometimes art. the other other night was a good example. >> charlie: tell me what we saw tuesday. >> you mentioned arkansas being the most interesting race, an incumbent who had all kinds of pressure coming from right and left -- she's facing a very tough general having already won the primary but it looked like she could lose the primary in the last couple of days because everyone was coming in there to beat her, the seiu, afscme, all coming in to beat her with $10 million and they were really after her and they ironically made her into norma rae -- they made her into the local hero -- >> charlie: yeah. >> woman standing up for her rights. >> charlie: she became the local vs. the national establishment. >> right. >> charlie: ball all those unions have headquarters in washington. >> right and a lot of people
came from out of town and she managed to make herself a local hero and actually never looked better than she did election night. what irony there. >> charlie: she had a secret weapon too. bill clinton. >> boy, that hug -- this goes down in history, he had the french cuffs, looked like a million bucks, he put the full bill around her, it was really an embrace and you notice it was gender because when she came out of that hug she was actually just overwhelmed physically, it was like you could see in her face, "i can't believe the guy likes me that much and wants to help me that much." it was great. it was very real. >> charlie: the politics of it. he made a difference for her because he brought out the local angle. >> he won six races for governor down there and two races for president, he's very popular in that part of the country, in arkansas, he may live in new york but he's an arkansan. hillary as well. if you're joe sestak running, you want him in pennsylvania
uhospital him in the culturally conservative areas, another state where bill clinton is enormously popular is pennsylvania and new hampshire. if you're running in ohio, you want him there. you want him in missouri, kentucky -- all that sort of state -- more rural states -- you want him. in fact, you want him almost anywhere. >> charlie: what does this mean for him in terms of what he may be and what he may do? >> well, i have been convinced that the most powerful political fact on the center left in american politics for the last two years has been -- it's not called but is in fact the coalition between the clintons and barack obama. it's been sealed by her appointment as secretary of state, his recognition of her as basically foreign minister giving her full authority to fill almost all the posts in that department, bill clinton coming along as a full partner in this three-way relationship, it's powerful stuff and i think if it hadn't occurred think of the opposite -- her as senator of new york, a lightning rod for all concerns about the middle east -- >> charlie: right, right, right. >> about unemployment, but instead she's on the team and very much a partner on the team and bill clinton's on the team
-- who would have believed that he would have been such a good partner as he's been, 100%. she's been 100%. and i think if anything happens to that relationship, the democratic party comes apart but as long as it holds they're at least a 50-50 bet to hold the white house for two terms. >> charlie: california. you have two former c.e.o.'s that have carried the standard for the republican party. >> fiorrina i don't think can win a general election because she's pro-life. she may have taken that position -- opposition to roe v. wade, opposition to a woman's right to choose an abortion but she now has to stand by that politician in the general. i think that might a faustian deal for her. that may be a problem. they haven't elected a pro-life candidate for high office since deukmejian in the 1980's. >> charlie: governor deukmejian. >> as you understand there are tracking polls. you can get an average of your polls. as long as she sees herself within striking distance she will peel off another five
million and another five million and another five million. easy she gets closer, jerry brown told me this years ago in california you can buy up your ratings. at some point it becomes as we say in math -- you don't quite get there. >> charlie: what happened in south carolina with nikki hailey? >> she was under assault, again, i think people out there, those men were not showing good form -- that's what i told -- >> charlie: what does that mean? >> saying things about they had relations with her and they had put that word out in the street. >> charlie: they didn't put it on the street, they did commercials. >> that's right, they didn't do it subtly, may i say it on late night television, she's very attractive, she's well turned out, she's metropolitan. >> charlie: whatter hear views? >> she has all the arch conservative views but she seems to lay it on more nicely if you listen to it. >> charlie: tea party -- >> strong favorite. >> charlie: strong favorite to be the next governor. >> that's a critical state for sarah palin. if you think sarah palin is running for president, and i do, she has to win on a certain tour, she has to go to iowa and
win with the evangelicals, the shape of the field defines the winner, she will go to new hampshire and come in perhaps a strong second, go to south carolina and win big, that's a good state for a conservative candidate with the help of guess who, the governor, governor hailey, then she will have a decisive battle assuming mitt romney is the alternative will be in michigan, the home of his family and she started her book tour in michigan. she said that was the state the republicans passed over last time and gave up on too early, she's already charted her course to make the armageddon fight in michigan. >> charlie: there is no doubt darns -- >> no, there is a doubt bing this is the plan. >> charlie: can i say this? >> i'm writing a book about john kennedy. >> charlie: what's that about? >> he was a heroic figure, people when asked several months ago who they thought belonged on mount rushmore, "60 minutes" and "vanity fair" asked across the country who they most wanted to
see mount rushmore beating out f.d.r. and ike and -- >> charlie: why do you think that is? >> his life had the arc of a hero. people think of when they think of mount rushmore, teddy roosevelt, he's the one up there that's really iconic, the arc of the american hero, the right of passage, the proof of courage and youth which he did with pt-109, the audacity, the wisdom and maturity and the struggle of the cuban missile crisis. he fits that fictional and nonfictional role, lindbergh had it, he got into trouble politically, davey crockett and daniel boone, ernest hemingway and the one foreign leader, churchill, these are the american heroes. >> charlie: you worked for tip o'neill. there was a relationship between tip o'neill and ronald reagan that passed the bipartisanship test. >> it was different than today. whifirst met president reagan, as you know, i was aide to the
speaker -- i had this big desk in the capitol building and next to me was the speaker's ceremonial office which ironically was the greenroom for the president when he gives the state of the union, i think it was 1982 in january and i of course barged into the office and i said to the president, "mr. president, welcome to the room where we plot against you" and he goes, "oh, no, not after 6:00." "the speaker says we're all friends after 6:00." and i think he honored that -- he honored that all during that wonderful scene which i have learned about that happened after reagan was recovering in the hospital -- he had lost half his blood in the shooting, the bullet had moved close to his heart. jim baker, whoi think was one of the greatest, if not the greatest chiefs of staff to a president, had made sure no one got to see the president until tip o'neill got to shiem, the leader of the opposition, and wonderfully, tip came into the room and max riederstaff was posted there to make sure nobody got, there there are these two guys in their 70's, old irish
guys of different political persuasions and reagan is comatose, tip comes over and puts himself down on both knees. holds reagan's hands and asks if they can recite the 23rd psalm together. they recited it and he kissed reagan on the forehead and said "i want to give you time to sleep." it's a killer. nowhere else in the world is there that kind of personal regard within a political contest, and they always fought -- sometimes when you read the reagan diary, you think are these guys married? he will say things like "tip doesn't listen" and tip will come back and say "he doesn't know the details" but it was a great fight and in the end when tip retired reagan was there at his boston college -- going-away college, a fundraiser for boston college, jerry ford and bob hope was there and reagan gave the most beautiful speech about
saying "in the past you have given me the honor of calling you friend. i hope you will give me that in the future." we got taxes reduced to 33%, we got tax reform, we saved social security, on a lot of issues they got together, they agreed on foreign policy generally -- tip went over to see gorbachev before reagan did and give him the ok, came back and said, "the guy reminds me of a new york lawyer" and then reagan goes over there and gets along with gorbachev and said, "yeah, it reminded me of my relationship with tip, we disagreed but we were buddies" and then the best line, gorbachev said "was asked why did you like reagan? and he said "i liked him." personal relations matter. >> charlie: what happened? why is the country more partisan? why are we -- why have we lost that spirit? >> the my way or the highway mentality goes right down to the voter -- the voter, the grassroots people, the net-roots people say "i want it my way," they knocked off bob bennett.
>> charlie: right. >> they knock off arlen specter, they kicked charlie rose out -- not charlie rose, charlie crist, i think charlie is going to beat the band. he's going to win the general anyway. >> charlie: you think he will? >> he will be the senator and i think he will organize for the democrats. >> charlie: what does that say about the possibility of independents today? >> i think it's great, i think if blanche lincoln survives, if charlie crist wins down there these people will break this notion that you can't be somewhere in the middle and you can't negot -- i wish the voters would think, "do you really want politicians to not really go to washington and not really negotiate? would you like them to just say we'll wait for our party to get 60% and we'll run the place and we'll have a one-party rule?" do you really want that? isn't it better to have one party checking on the other and modifying each other and coming down with something like a consensus? isn't that better to have a health care bill that did have 75 votes? wouldn't that be better,? of the edges rubbed off of it? >> charlie: sure. >> in terms of welfare or tax
policy you could have lower rates but get rid of a lot of the loopholes? that would be better for everybody. don't tell me you can't have an immigration policy if the two parties would get together. you would have amnesty to some extent for people who had been here a long time but you would have to have some sort of enforcement too. >> charlie: you say it's not working now because people are not interested in negotiating? >> start electing politicians who want to negotiate and say it to them. "get in that room. stay all night, stay all week, stay all weekend," there are some things you can't ever agree on -- abortion rights, for example, is always going to be difficult, there is no middle ground, really, but issues like immigration, they're essentially legislative, essentially something on enforcement, something on amnesty, put it together, something so an employer can know who it let hire. energy, of course we can have short-term reliance on fossil fuels, long-term renewables, we know the answer. >> charlie: how do you explain
the death -- how do you explain the success -- success of the tea party movement? >> we had this argument in high school, we argued whether we should use the commerce clause to justify the civil rights, we came to the conclusion we've got to stretch the constitution and use the commerce clause, better than waiting for three quarters of the states to agree. we have had these arguments about the 17th amendment, i can't believe they are arguing about whether senators should be elected by the popular vote, all these suggestions -- i like rand paul, i like his father, ron paul but these arguments should have been settled in his head way back when he was in school not on national television, not in front of boards that come out and say you have problems with the civil bill is insane. >> charlie: will he get past that? >> he may well win but these arguments are better settled in school. >> charlie: do you think he has problems with it? >> no, i think he has a
principled position which is if you own a store -- it gets down to suppose my kid is selling lemonade in front of my house, don't tell me that's interstate commerce but i'll give you a better case. i'll give you another case which is the reason why they passed the law, paul corbett, bobby kennedy's hatchet man told me he sat down with bob kennedy and mblg you're a grown-up african-american guy and you are driving up and down the united states between north and south, say you're down in florida for the weekend with your wife, coming back to the deep south, you pull over and say i've got to go to the bathroom, you pull over to the gas station, she goes to the ladies' room and they say you can't go here, go off in the weeds somewhere, imagine how you would feel as a man. he said "that's what it's about, that's why we had to have a civil rights bill. >> charlie: factor in harry reid. >> he picked his opponent, didn't he? he picked sharron angle -- i'm a
friend of sue loudon so i'm prejudiced, she's a nice lady, i got to know her pretty well and she's a personality you just -- in a minute you go for her if you met her and i think harry was afraid of going up against her and apparently they ran hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising out there during the primary season to basically ensure that she wouldn't the nominee and they succeeded and sharron angle is a woman, very radical, taking the otherwise of the united nations, again back to the high school arguments we had, pretty primitive stuff so he should be able to beat her but it's not a sure thing. >> charlie: if he should lose, who would be the next majority leader? >> that's a great one. this is the great one -- i just love this -- you asked me to do this while you live in new york -- >> charlie: yeah. >> people tell me schumer would beat durbin. i'm not sure. people tell me it would be a battle between the roommates -- these guys have been living together since >> charlie: six or seven other guys -- >> one guy gets the couch, they live in this place on the hill,
he and delahunt and somebody else. >> charlie: they could be the two guys who face if for some reason harry reid -- >> mantle against maris, the roommates running against each other like in the old days of the yankees, they're going to run against each other and i tell you schumer is one -- when he beat d'amato in new york state, only he could go right at it, he went right at it, he never stopped, he out-d'amato'd d'amato. he could be a new york cab driver and cut you off. he is for real. he raised the money and he's a party leader and he's got new york. >> charlie: he campaigns all over new york state. he's a guy they know in new york state. >> he's got gillibrand supporting him. in many ways he's the boss. durbin is a much softer personality, i would argue, maybe easier to take in a midwest sense, a little less edgy but i think that's going to be a tough one -- these elections for leader are so exciting.
because they're secret ballots but they sort of always know, walk around the corner, catch the guy's eye, you know how he voted. >> charlie: john kerry is doing well as a senator. >> he's going to be great -- chairman of foreign affairs, he loves it, he's an expert, multilingual, one of the few american leaders who can go to europe and talk another language -- >> charlie: that french will come in handy. >> that was such a bogus argument. do we want to have sophisticated foreign ministers or not? >> charlie: that's the job he wanted snrnths it? >> i think he might get it somewhere down the line. >> charlie: you think that secretary clinton will want to serve in the job of secretary of state for eight years? >> i think -- she's healthy, she's learning and learning and learning and the more you learn why would you leave it? ? once you have mastered all those theatre says why would you walk away? what would be better? president of harvard? president of columbia? is there a better job? >> charlie: no. she doesn't want to be on the court. she's unlikely to be appointed because of age. >> the way it goes now you have to be 40 or something to run for the court because they want 25 years of service out of you now. >> charlie: talk about
leadership. there is a president and the oil spill. what happened? >> i don't think it was a -- a katrina, i don't think it was a lack of focus, i think they did hold meetings from day one. maybe -- this is the part i am sort of examining my conscience on because i do want obama to succeed, i want this president to make it -- we've had a couple failures. i want this one to succeed. i think it's command presence. it's not just presence like next week he's going down there again for a couple of days to show up. it's not like woody allen, you show up, you win, you have to have the command presence. >> charlie: explain that. woody allen that said that 99% of your game -- >> he said 80% of life is showing up. it's not a question of concern is being there but it is like when you have a four-alarm fire and you look across the chief and there is the mayor and the police chief on the curb. it's a sense of we're here in charge making sure we've got enough fire trucks, making sure we're going to get that out by midnight, that's what we grew up in big cities and our comic book
heroes, we want our heroes to be there from day one. they've let b.p. be in charge. that is the biggest failure. he's confronted with it. he inherited but it makes him look like an observer. the second problem is this is what the critics have said from the ground down there. there is no chain of command. again, back to reagan. the president's the president of the united states. he's the boss. below him is the chief operating officer, jim baker, the chief of staff. >> charlie: rahm emanuel. >> then the cabinet officials doing their job. when i ask admiral allen who is your boss? "my boss is janet napolitano over at homeland security. who does she work with? she works with the president. there is no sense of command from the white house. it doesn't seem like a white house operation. it seems like it's been outsourced to b.p. and then to the cabinet, whether it's m.m.s., which is interior, or it's coast guard, which is homeland security or commerce --
you know, it's all over the place. >> charlie: the speculation was in the beginning they did not want to own the problem. >> that's their problem. they do. >> charlie: they have to. >> and they do. and jeff zucker said to me at the white house correspondents' dinner a month ago "this is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger as it goes on," he had the sense of it getting bigger and bigger and bigger and it's growing until it surrounds the president, this is like the iranian hostage crisis. it will outgrow the president if he can't deal with it. and end it. >> charlie: what does that mean? >> stop the leak. >> charlie: the two relief wells will be in by august. are you saying if he stops it by august it's -- it's ok? >> we had junk shot. we had top kill. we had cut-and-cap. we have system after system that's been advanced to us as, i believe, some sort of time-delay thing to keep us distracted for a couple of weeks at a time. we don't know if that will work. we don't know. >> charlie: you're saying if he can cap it by -- and stop the leak -- stop the spill by august, before september, then he's ok, he can recover from
this? >> yeah, i think so. if i think it through that far, if i can imagine that happening. i don't see that happening. >> charlie: you don't think he can? >> no. i don't see that happening. b.p. has failed -- >> charlie: like the iranian hostage crisis? >> b.p. has been dishonest, they said they had the capacity when they signed the permit that they had the capacity to handle a spill of exponential distance from this one, they decided to go with the sea water rather than the drilling mud. they made a lot of decisions that were dishonest along the way. >> charlie: he got tough in the last 24 hours perhaps saying that somebody should be fired, the president said that about b.p. -- >> it's talk. it's not effective. it's not convincing the public. his numbers are dropping. >> charlie: tell me what he does to convince the public. he pitches a tent down there on the coast? >> here is what he has to do. let me give you a parallel. when the british expeditionary force was at dunn kirk he didn't say "i'm rely -- at dunkirk he didn't call on the army or navy,
he called on every boat. get over there and get them back. why hasn't this president commandeered, dragooned if you will all the oil cums, all the equipment, and said "company the -- all the oil companies, all the equipment, and said "i want every tanker that does business in the united states skimming oil off the surface until we get it done, i want to see alm you guys working." >> charlie: would that have worked? >> it's not efficient but it would be doing the job. something else he could do. i said this the other night. ask the american people to volunteer this summer. the young americans especially. to go down there for minimum wage, volunteer, go down there -- just go down there en masse and we we would have a spiritual uplift -- we would say, "wait a minute, this is the worst mess we have faced in terms of danger to our country but if everybody went out there" -- he hasn't asked us to do everything. if the american people -- the young people especially -- needed summer work went down there with buckets and you saw thousands and thousands of young people collecting this muck -- i got this idea from the
headmaster at choate when i was working on this book on kennedy and he said "why don't we do something like this when these kids are off for summer" -- jack was running a club when he was a kid called the muckers. i said "call them the muckers." every american gets asked by the president to go down there. my nephew is working down there. everyone would feel so proud everyone was doing their bit. just like bush never asked us to do anything about iraq. >> charlie: midterm elections. >> it's going to be about -- again, back to history -- richard nixon, when he won re-election in 1972 he was listening to richard rodgers' "victory at sea" in the middle of the night with chuck colson, he said, "we have lost subpoena power again." people have to realize that the most important instrument congress has in terms of good guys and bad guys is the subpoena power. if daryl issa gets subpoena power, look out, obama administration, he will go right after the sestak deal, he will go after every deal he can go
after, subpoena power would give them the power to go after everything if they can win the house by one vote, it's that the ranking members on the committees will have the subpoena power to go after the administration. it's what happened with alger hiss, it's what happened with rodino and tip. you can bring down a president -- >> charlie: is it what happened with the democrats after they took power after the 2008 election? >> they had their own government in power. they didn't want to go after -- the dangerous power of the subpoena is when the opposition party has it and they can go after the administration. that's when you see administrations change hands. it's powerful stuff. and i think that's why they want it back. >> charlie: what will be the big issue -- >> i think it's really close. the answer to your questions, i can see a couple of cases where the democrats pick up senate seats in ohio, florida -- with charlie crist who will organize as a democrat, i believe, they can win in new hampshire with clinton help, it's very open what will happen in missouri and kentucky so they can win four or five seats as well as lose six orseven, so i think they can get away with only losing two or
three seats in the senate. in the house, i think they face -- they'll lose 40 seats is tough -- i think they're going to be pretty good -- rahm emanuel will be pretty good -- they will be putting in the sealers. they will be holding off what they can. >> charlie: he's a good chief of staff in the james baker mold? >> he's a good chief of staff in the political mold, i'm not sure he's used in the public c.o.o., somebody running the show from the white house for him, everybody saying like at 5:00 "the president's asked me today to tell the four cabinet officials involved to do the following, we're getting it done" every day. >> charlie: how did -- i think he's been nice -- he's given the president a human quality that wheent otherwise have. he's a bit detached, the president, as we know, a bit aloof, joe's a regular guy as you know, he makes mistakes -- i was when him when he went over to israel and we were hit by netanyahu and the housing issue and he took it -- and i have to tell you -- he spoke off the record to me afterwards, but i
will say this. he was not petty about it -- he is a very strong support of israel. what joe -- what the vice president was talking about is the strategic concerns that netanyahu has that are legitimate and we have to talk to him about that, how to protect his country, we have to talk to israel on their terms, how to protect their country and i think it's a really good discussion between friends and i think biden is the right guy. >> charlie: ronald reagan's career was made by a speech. barack obama's career was made by a speech. >> yeah. >> charlie: david cameron's career was made by a speech. >> yeah. >> charlie: i'm fascinated by the notion at the moment, if you can somehow summon the vision -- >> yeah. barack did it -- the president did it in 2004, everybody gave me trouble saying i was physically thrilled by it -- >> charlie: you brought that on yourself. >> it actually happened, i did get a thrill up my leg, it
happened. when he talks about america the way he does, he wasn't talking about barack obama, he was talking about what this country can be and he being a symbol of that, how can you make it in this country. >> charlie: he started with the vietnam -- with the iraq speech but the speech that really did it as you said was the 2004 keynote, yeah. >> can i tell you a funny story about politicians, why they don't go to the movies? i worked for tip o'neill, street corner, hanging out at paul young's, never went to the movies. the only movie he saw in the 1960's was "bridge on the river kwai" about the americans and brits held prisoner in the burr meas prison camp, by david lean, great movie, the beautiful sophia loren looking like a million bucks and he says, "i understand -- you're a beautiful woman. i understand you're a movie
star. were you on "bridge on the river kwai"? and she's thinking "who do you think i was? the prison guard?" because it was the only movie he had seen. they're just too busy, charlie. i don't know what to say. >> charlie: you've got a new documentary -- >> next wednesday night. >> charlie: june 16. >> right. >> charlie: what is it -- it's called what? >> "the rise of the right." it's about this phenomenon of tea party, militia groups, birthers -- they're all different but what they have in common, i discovered, is that flag -- the gadsden flag from south carolina which is the rattlesnake for north america that says, "don't tread on me." they have this new philosophy which says government is the foreign occupying power. it's not a bad government, it's a foreign government. it's -- they want to take our country back. this is really revolutionary talk and i think when people see this documentary they will say this isn't left vs. right politics, this is really revolutionary, these people want guns, a lot of them to protect
themselves against what they call tyranny and they all talk the same way -- the government is the enemy. the government is the occupying power. obama may not be an american, a lot of them say -- the birthers -- it's scary stuff. >> charlie: tell me more about them. do they represent -- what percentage of the country? >> i don't know. they represent -- a portion of the activist wing of the republican party. they vote republican. they show up. they did -- they were very successful getting sharron angle elected this week. they were for nikki hailey. nikki hailey doesn't seem like one of them but she talks like them if you listen. >> charlie: sarah palin? >> sarah palin is the queen of this group, the leader of this group, she represents the ability -- if you listen to her, she's very attractive and comes off in a traditional way as sort of an attractive woman from the west but if you listen to her, her agitation is brilliant. she gets people mad at their government, she gets people mad at them, the boum crowd -- she -- the obama crowd, she uses sarcasm which is very effective, if you listen to her rallies
those people are angrier when she's done, she's very good at it and very smart at how to lead that crowd. >> charlie: the documentary will be on wednesday night. >> that's right, 5:00, 7:00 and midnight. >> charlie: an excerpt. >> barack obama said it was ok to spread the wealth around, quote unquote, that really bothered me -- like said it just brought back memories of manage -- something i have seen before in a different country in a different time of my life. >> anna was born and raised in brazil. she now lives in pennsylvania. she didn't think the republican party had the answer she was looking for so she joined forces with another local woman, anastasia pavilski who had formed a group calls the kitchen table patriots. >> it was a protest about the stimulus at first, it wasn't really a group, we were planning a tea party in april. after we did that, it was kind of like where do you go from here? we were having the town halls, we were organizing that.
it never stopped. >> i was told not to make coffee. >> in the last year, the two women's lives have changed dramatically. they now spend hours on the phone and email organizing protests and running work shops, educating their neighbors. >> charlie: thank you for coming. >> thanks, charlie. wonderful to be here. you ask all the right questions. >> charlie: what i need to know about politics, here is the man i go to -- chris matthews, msnbc's "hardball," a new documentary about the right on june 16. ♪ >> charlie: doris buffett is here. she is the older sister of warren buffett. like her brother, she plans on donating her entire fortune to philanthropy, but unlike warren she plays a hands-on role in the day to day activities of her foundation. in the past 15 years, she's given away more than $100 million, much of it in small, personal donations amounting to less than $10,000 each. she is now the subject of a new biography called "giving it all
away, the doris buffett story" written by michael zitz and includes a forward by warren. i am pleased to have doris buffett at the table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you very much. i'm happy to be here. >> charlie: this is some story of your life. >> as warren says, it's the truth. and it is. >> charlie: any reservations about telling the truth? >> oh, we had plenty of reservations about that but it wouldn't be book -- it would be worthless if it didn't tell all the story and i was really telling it because i wanted my grandchildren and great grandchildren to have a record so they would know who i was. >> charlie: you decide to tell the story. how did you end up with bono giving advice? >> i was sitting at a dinner table, my brother was sitting here, i was sit hering and bono was here. warren had -- i was sitting here and bono was here. warren had introduced me, "this is my sister and she has a foundation" and i thought if i turp around i'll bet he's rolling his eyes at another
white-haired lady taking care of cats. >> charlie: "taking care of cats." >> we got to the dining table and he said "there is nothing i would rather talk about" and that's how it happened. >> charlie: what is poignant and painful is the relationship with your mother. >> it was very tough. very hard on me. i -- i have tried to figure it out. i went to a psychiatrist. we tried to figure it outment he finally. -- we tried to figure it out. he finally said "you couldn't have done anything by the age of three that would make this relationship what it was." >> charlie: what was it about? >> well, you know that in the reign of charles i, he had a son named charles, and they brought a boy in to court, and every time charles, the prince, did something wrong, then they spanked her -- whatever they did to -- to this other child -- he was the whipping boy. and i was sort of like -- i think i was -- that was the relationship, and why it was, i'll never know.
i know there are reasons like she had a difficult time at my birth and she was working terribly hard, and she had -- her mother was in a mental institution, so was her -- one of her sisters, and then another sister committed suicide, so there is -- there is a history that goes back in that family, because my great grandmother was in a mental institution on that side -- now, the buffetts, on the other hand, are solid as they can be. because i researched it. >> charlie: right. >> since 1696. so they were just the kind of people you think of as -- as populating america. making it grow. so fortunately, i like to think that i got more genes from that side of the family than i did the other. >> charlie: her name was -- >> mark: leila. >> charlie: did she take it out more on you than on warren? >> absolutely. he would tell you that. i'm not trying to be a big, whiny victim here, i don't feel that way but yes, that's true, he would tell you that, he's already said that at different times -- he even said he wished he could have intervened but he
was too scared of her himself. >> charlie: then there was another -- >> birdie. >> charlie: birdie came along a bit later. >> birdie got off free -- i mean, she really did, and maybe she was too tired by that time, i don't know -- but birdie was spunkier, and i was -- i was mary sunshine or whatever they called me. >> charlie: tell me how you felt about her. you. >> i know. i -- well, i didn't -- i feared her a great deal, and i -- just tried to be good all the time, and not raise any ire or any problems. i believed every word she said. i think that's the sadder part. >> charlie: that you were a bad person? that you weren't pretty? that you didn't deserve to go to college? >> no, and i had lost all my looks when i was 18 and wasn't allowed to sit at the same table with me when i was growing up. >> charlie: how did it shape you? >> i thought i was really dumb to begin with. >> charlie: even though you had
everything that was necessary to go to college, you wanted to go to college -- >> i went down to go to college -- at duke, as a matter of fact, that's where i wanted to go. >> charlie: boy. >> didn't quite make it. >> charlie: why didn't she want you to go to college? >> i have no idea. that was unanswerable. i just don't know. >> charlie: that was one of the hardest ones for you to accept. >> yeah, and still to this day i wished i had had the experience in a dormitory or sorority house or the whole thing but i was at home studying to be an old maid, i guess. >> charlie: it was like she had no confidence in you. she didn't believe in you. >> no. >> charlie: didn't like you -- >> didn't like me. i think so it was really more that. >> charlie: you were also very, very beautiful and so therefore -- >> so they say. >> charlie: they did say that, and for understandable reasons and she was jealous of that a bit. >> i think so. you've got to remember -- you wouldn't know this but she never had a date until she went to the university of nebraska -- she was too busy helping her father put out the newspaper. she met my father when she applied for a job at the nebraska -- "the daily nebraskan" and that was it. >> charlie: you point outside there was an outside person and
an inside person. >> yeah. >> charlie: she could be charming. loving. >> oh, marvelous. she could work a room, you know, when he was running for office. >> charlie: she was more outgoing than he was? >> yeah, definitely, and when she was 65, i remember she got 65 birthday cards. that's hard for everybody to do -- for anybody to do. people really loved her. >> charlie: you remember when you took birdie to school, you were in the car for 12 hours. >> miserable. it really was. as i said, i could -- you would almost -- finally there was a fire off to one side on an oil tanker or something and i have never been happy to see anything like that because then we could change the subtd, perhaps. >> charlie: did this make you and warren tighter? >> i think -- i think we felt each other's grief, or what is it that president clinton said -- >> charlie: feel your pain. >> i think that's true, but there came a point when we really were sort of -- leading parallel lives, you know. >> charlie: and birdie felt none of this because she hadn't had the same experience? >> no. no. i asked her -- you know, i never
heard my mother say anything about loving me or tucking me in or reading me stories. i have no memory of that. i can remember her saying there was -- there was a big, forbidding building next to the grade school i went to, with high walls. and it turned out it was a home for unfortunate girls, you know, but -- we thought it was an orphanage -- i mean, we were eight years old or something and she threatened to leave me there, so -- it was scary. >> charlie: when you didn't go to college, you got married. >> you had to. you know, if you weren't married by 25, you had to leave town -- and i know that comes as a hard thing to understand when you're not this age but that really was the way it was in omaha, nebraska. >> charlie: marriage was an escape. >> yeah. and it was just something you had to do. and -- and otherwise, you could be either a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. i couldn't stand the sight of blood, and i took typing three different times and i couldn't seem to master that. so all that was left was to teach, but the best thing was to get married.
uh-huh. >> charlie: three marriages didn't work out. >> four. >> charlie: no, four. i was going to -- just three so far. >> thank you. you are making a better woman out of me. i appreciate that. >> charlie: 1987 comes in and you have inherited 12 million or more? >> i had about 12 million that monday morning, yeah. >> charlie: and this is -- >> and i had a -- i had a broker -- i'm not -- i mean, i went down the path, but i didn't know very much, but i had it all in berkshire hathaway stock and, of course, you never get a dividend, and the other bad thing is he's covered on -- if you count on money, it's worth a whole lot more on friday so you feel like a fool cashing it in and it's all i had. so this broker suggested a path for me to take and it sounded ok to me, and so as a result i had a lot of uncovered options, and they all went down the drain. she couldn't sell them fast enough. >> charlie: 12 million became $2 million in debt. why didn't you call up warren, not later but before and say
"what should i do?" here is the most famous investor in the world. >> i know but i thought he would be so disapproving. >> charlie: of what you were doing? >> yeah. finally i called warren, but i was really -- >> charlie: must have been -- was it hard for you to do because you feltd ashamed? >> yeah, i was incredibly ashamed by then, i just felt -- it came on after years of being told what a dumby i was and making these marriage mistakes and so on, and i didn't have a shred of self respect left. >> charlie: you felt like you had proved your mother right? >> yeah, by golly, i had, uh-huh. it was very difficult. i couldn't even look at warren for a while. you know, he's sort of been our icon in the family, of course, and my father was gone but -- maybe my father i could have done that but not warren. >> charlie: explain that to me. >> well, warren was -- warren was being a businessman those years, you know -- he really --
he was on a different planet, sort of. with christmas, thanksgiving it was hard to find things to talk about. what did i know about debentures or anything else, for mamatter? -- for that matter? >> charlie: you don't get to do what he's done without working awfully hard. >> oh, wrae, yeah, all the time, vacation dabsz -- >> oh, yeah, yeah, all the time, vacation -- >> charlie: suzie would be a an intermediator. >> if i wanted to find out something i went to suzie. we had things in common. >> charlie: you had things in common. >> we both loved music. and we -- we had dreams of doing things together when we finally had some money -- this is before i lost it, of course -- and i remember she was going to have a -- an orphanage for cambodian children, and i don't remember what my deal was and then we were going to have an old folks home just for us and our friends. we picked out the house. we were going to sit on the
porch on rockers and lie to each other and have a good chef and a driver. our friends were signing up already. why hand it over to people you don't know. >> charlie: it might have worked. >> at one time we decided we would live at the plaza when it was still a hotel. there are those two big chairs on the side entrance and we were going to come down every day with a different color bow in our hair and sit and watch the people come through because we love to do that too so we had a lot of fun, and we had a going contest -- good-natured contest about greeting cards so we would go up one side of lexington avenue -- up 90th or someplace and warren said "they're just bringing out the wares on the sidewalk, they see you coming" so we never spent much money. we had a lot of fun. yeah. >> charlie: what influence did she have on him? >> he adored her. absolutely adored her. i have never seen anything like it in my life and she was wonderful for him. she was a very special person -- i know you hear that a lot but
it was really true and she brought peace to him and she brought him understanding and unconditional love and -- and it couldn't have been better. >> charlie: god, that's a lot. >> it is. but everybody should -- it was pretty much -- she gave an awful lot to a lost people and i mean of herself. -- to a lot of people and i mean of herself, she really did. >> charlie: speaking of suzie buffett, here is the only television interview she ever did before she died in 2004. the buffett family knew the thompson family? >> oh, my, yes -- they were like this -- the parents. the parents. the children didn't know each other because warren and his sisters lived in washington from the time he was 13. >> charlie: his father was a congressman. >> right. >> charlie: so when you first met him -- >> ha. when i first met him, i was going to be his younger sister's roommate at northwestern. so i walked into their house and
he was sitting in this chair, in the living room and he made some sarcastic quip. i hadn't even met him. so i made one back. i thought, "who is this jerk?" and that's how we met. yes. >> charlie: here is the story. he chased you and you were dating other people. he would come over to the house. >> right. and sit with your father. >> yeah. >> charlie: and you were going off to a date. >> my dad fell in love with him. listen, warren is smarter than you even know. my dad had a mandolin up in the attic. warren said, "doc, get out your mandolin and i'll play with you with my ukulele." they played with each other and my father fell in love with warren. and he said to me, "you don't understand this boy. he has a heart of gold."
no pun intended. >> charlie: truer than he would know. >> but doesn't warren always get what he wants? >> charlie: so you finally gave up on the other guy and started dating him. >> yeah. >> charlie: that brings me to the foundation. so you came into some more more money. >> i did. my mother died at the age of 93. but let me tell you what happened first. >> charlie: tell me. >> ok. i waited a long time and nothing changed through all those years -- it was the same story. i'll tell you, one time i was married to this man and he thought she must be a madonna, and so -- he thought that. and we were sitting there at the kitchen table one day, and the phone rang. it was my mother. i say a few words to her and she starts going off so i handed the phone to him, and i washed the dishes while this was going on. but it was amazing because she never stopped, and really the funny part, if there was one, was at the end of this tirade, when i'm in tears -- she never
stopped until i was crying -- and then she would say, "oh, it's been so nice to have this little talk." i never said a word. >> charlie: but -- but she left you all this money. >> yeah. yeah. she did. my sister and me. of course, warren never cut himself in on any wills or anything like that. he took himself out. which was very nice. and so birdie and i inherited her money -- and, of course, there wasn't meant to be a lot of money, either, when my father died, but warren took over and everything changed. >> charlie: when warren arrived, it was different. >> yes. it was. greatly different. and i must say that -- my brother and i have a really nice relationship now. we really do. and i -- >> charlie: has it changed over the years? >> yeah. i think it's gotten -- i definitely think -- in the last few years it's really been great. i'm very grateful for that. he's been a really good brother. he's been very kind to me and thoughtful. usually he was just a figure you didn't miss with -- not that he was ever mad because he doesn't
have a temper that i'm aware of but he was in his own world and he was doing big important things and i was this tag-along person. no, it's picked up a lot. i'm very fond of him and he's been very helpful with his book and -- -- with this book and said a lot of nice things to me. it was a long time coming. i had to be 80 some years old. i think the whole secret to success in life is living a long time. >> charlie: the foundation. how did the foundation come about? >> i have to tell you that once i went to some kind of entertainment where they had somebody that read your handwriting -- i thought, "oh, this is really dopey" -- but as she went around, all the ladies that were there before me kept saying, "oh, that's exactly right, that's where i am -- that's what i am" and what's he going to say? he said "altruistic." that's something that would normally come up but i have
been. i think part of it was because i was raised during the depression and there were children in my high schools that were so gaunt and awful looking -- i hope the teachers were taking care of them, i don't know because i was young -- and i saw people who were hopeless. they were good people. they were in -- they were just invisible at that time -- and there were just -- i know i didn't -- i know i saw -- i must have seen it because i reacted to it ever since -- and so i just have always wanted to help. >> charlie: called the sunshine lady foundation. >> yeah. >> charlie: who do you give this money to? >> we put out the message when i was in denver and a convention of battered-wives people -- and that was a huge success. it was a really a huge morale boost for those women and then one of the women that was promoted -- what we say, by
somebody else in her safe house, she said "you really should know what a wonderful girl gale healy is and how she goes above and beyond what a director has to do." they said, "for instance, there is a woman who came in here with three children and she had never finished high school," and gale said, "you have the ability so let's get you a g.e.d." which she did and then got her to go on to college. when this proposal was written to me this woman was getting a ph.d., and i thought, "well," a light went on, i said, "there must be hundreds out there, and certainly education would make all the difference for them" so we started the women's inspects scholarship program -- and we have -- the women's independence scholarship women and we have had 1,500 and more -- 1,500 who have graduated and have gone on to wonderful lives. >> charlie: tell me what interests you. >> one of my biggest interests
right now, and has been for six years, is educating prisoners. and last week, warren went with me to the "cingular at the half" graduation -- >> warren went with me to the sing-sing graduation. here is the interesting fact. 400,000 people git out of prison every year in this country. i'm trying to remember how many there are in prison. i can't because i can never remember numbers but as we all know it's a lot -- way too many -- and normally, everywhere else from coast to coast the recidivism with rate within a year or two hovers between 60 and 63%. now, of the graduates of mercy college who got their degree while they were in privenl at sing-sing -- which is a really tough thing -- in prison at sing-sing -- there have been 41 who have gone through the process and been released, their recidivism rate is -- guess what. >> charlie: zero.
>> you're right. you could have been a little -- you could have given me a -- well, anyhow, it is zero. and that's thrilling, and that's one of the biggest problems we have in the country. because 60 to 70% -- how many did i say? 400,000 to 600,000 get out every year. they're going to come out. do you want them to go back to their old way of life or would you like to see them paying taxes >> charlie: we would like to see them paying taxes. what was the hardest story to tell? >> i think to admit about the marriages and the fact i don't have the best relationships with my children. i do have some wonderful relationships with a couple of my dwrand sons, and that's -- >> charlie: who -- to my grandsons. >> charlie: who is the dedication to? joan boswell orovitz. >> my grandfather recently deceased. it's all laid out and i don't have to think about it anymore and i'm very grateful because mike did a wonderful job. he's a very intuitive and
generous person and kind and we did it together and i -- i hope a lot of the books sell because i wanted to make some money off it. >> charlie: good for you. what would you like your epitaph to be? >> "she made a difference." >> charlie: "she made a difference." >> unless you do, why were you here? and i had a chance to do it in a big way -- a bigger way than most people do. it's not billions of dollars or even -- nowhere close to that but we're very careful about what we do, and we -- everything i do i consider to be an investment because that's how it was made. a good investment is up to me as steward of the money to be just as careful with it so we get results from what we do. lives you wouldn't believe -- and they get the point about paying it forward because last month i was up in maine and the phone rang and this woman said, "my name is susan and you saved our family." those were her exact words. she said "i don't have any money but i just wanted you to know
that i collected over 4,000 pairs of shoes and they're all going to haiti." there is my payoff. >> charlie: "giving it all away" the doris buffett story with michael zitz, a forward by warren buffett. thank you. ♪ ♪ captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org